Tieline Technologies

Crocmedia’s Opening Round a Winner at Australian Open

Crocmedia’s Opening Round a Winner at Australian Open

By George Biagioni

George Biagioni is IT Director for Crocmedia in Australia. He recently oversaw the installation and configuration of broadcast equipment for Australian Open Radio at the 2014 Australian Open Golf Tournament, held at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney, Australia.

The 2014 Australian Open Golf Tournament was a watershed moment for Australian golf in bringing fans closer to the action. Croc Media was contracted by Golf Australia to provide on-course and online radio coverage of the tournament… and so Australian Open Radio was born!

A special event license allowed Australian Open Radio to broadcast around the course using a local 5W transmitter. Around five thousand VHF receivers were distributed to spectators by Golf Australia to follow all the golfing action live and it was also streamed online.

  --- Australian Open Golf
 

Mark Hayes reporting at the

Australian Open Golf using Report-IT

The commentary team of Andrew Maher, Mark Hayes, Mike Clayton, John Huggan, Martin Blake and Matt Cutler used iPhones with Tieline’s Report-IT Enterprise codec application to report live throughout the event. Each commentator carried a small external battery charger power bank, so their phones would last a full day as they followed the various groups round the course.

WheatNet-IP Integration

The iPhones with Report-IT connected to a Merlin PLUS codec with WheatNet-IP. This was connected to a VP-8IP audio processing blade and a Wheatstone IP12 WheatNet console. All audio stream routing was configured using Wheatstone’s Navigator software and this was a breeze to configure.

Each announcer was sent an IFB mix minus and Mark Allen our studio host would call them in live. The producer could also directly notify each announcer when we were close to crossing to them. At any time there were up to three people reporting live as they followed each playing group. We even had live bidirectional conversations between two roving announcers from different sections of the course!

After the iPhones connected to the cellular network, Tieline’s automatic jitter software measured prevailing network conditions and adjusted latency accordingly.  At times total latency was as low as 80ms.

Next year I am thinking of putting a split of Tieline’s Toolbox web browser graphical user interface in front of our host. That way they can see when each on-course commentator is connected and available.

A Cellular Reporting First

We were definitely breaking new ground in Australia and perhaps this may be a world-first. I haven’t heard of anyone using a similar configuration using smartphone apps and cellular technology to go live over 4 days.

Feedback was unanimously positive from everyone involved and the connections were very reliable throughout.  Spectators and online listeners loved the coverage and from an engineering perspective we had very positive results. The host broadcast television crews had significant issues with their radio mikes around the course and I felt relieved to not have to search for clear RF frequencies, which can be a nightmare in some situations.

Combining Report-IT with the Merlin PLUS WheatNet codec was a great way to cover all the action. It proved that an innovative application like Report-IT can successfully deliver high quality live broadcast audio.

We will use the same technology at the Open next year and I am sure there are also plans afoot to grow AO Radio in 2015.